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Voter Turnout Soars in North Carolina and Indiana GOP Primaries from 2008

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Buoyed by key primary battles down the ballot and a gay marriage ban initiative, Indiana and North Carolina notch the 3rd and 4th biggest increases in GOP presidential primary turnout from 2008

northcarolinaseal10.pngWhen a presumptive nominee emerges during the presidential primaries - as Mitt Romney has done this cycle - there is often little incentive to drive voters to the polls in the waning months of the primary season.

That wasn't the case this week, however, in North Carolina and Indiana.

A high-profile primary battle in the U.S. Senate in Indiana and an open gubernatorial race in North Carolina combined with the latter state's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage helped prompt the Tar Heel and Hoosier States to tally the third and fourth biggest increase in turnout in the Republican presidential race from 2008.

North Carolina saw an increase of 86.8 percent, or over 449,000 votes, from the 2008 cycle when John McCain had long sealed his 'presumptive nominee' status.

That trails only Mississippi at +99.4 percent and Wisconsin at +91.2 percent for the biggest increases from the 2008 primary election season.

Mississippi's increase is attributed to both a tight three-way battle in the state for the presidential race between Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich combined with a controversial life-at-conception initiative that was defeated at the ballot box.

Indiana's primary, which saw Republican voters come out to crush six-term incumbent Dick Lugar in the GOP U.S. Senate race, has the fourth highest cycle-to-cycle increase from 2008 at 55.0 percent.

Approximately 639,000 Indiana residents voted in the GOP presidential primary, compared to just over 412,000 in 2008.

Rounding out the Top 10 increases in turnout in the Republican presidential primaries and caucuses thus far are Kansas at #5 (+52.8 percent), Vermont at #6 (+52.7 percent), South Carolina at #7 (+35.5 percent), North Dakota at #8 (+16.0 percent), Louisiana at #9 (+15.6 percent), and Maine at #10 (+15.0 percent).

Turnout in the third state to hold its primary on Tuesday - West Virginia - was down 5.8 percent from four years ago.

Overall turnout voter for the 2012 GOP primaries and caucuses is basically flat from 2008 - down 0.7 percent out of 14+ million voters among the 36 states with comparable data from the previous cycle.

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1 Comment


  • So what WAS the actual turnout in North Carolina? You talk about an 86%increase... 86% of WHAT? 5 voters to 9 voters?! What was the ACTUAL percentage of eligible voters ACTUALLY voting in this election in North Carolina?

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    Remains of the Data

    Strange Bedfellows: A Historical Review of Divided US Senate Delegations

    Over the last century, states have been twice as likely to be represented by a single political party in the U.S. Senate than have a split delegation; only Delaware, Iowa, and Illinois have been divided more than half the time.

    Political Crumbs

    Haugh to Reach New Heights

    The North Carolina U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis may go down to the wire next Tuesday, but along the way Libertarian nominee Sean Haugh is poised to set a state record for a non-major party candidate. Haugh, who previously won 1.5 percent of the vote in the Tar Heel State's 2002 race, has polled at or above five percent in 10 of the last 12 polls that included his name. The current high water mark for a third party or independent candidate in a North Carolina U.S. Senate election is just 3.3 percent, recorded by Libertarian Robert Emory back in 1992. Only one other candidate has eclipsed the three percent mark - Libertarian Christopher Cole with 3.1 percent in 2008.


    Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

    Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


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